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| Can divorce in Israel be less messy? Yes

Zev Stub    
Sunday, 16 July 11:28 AM
While divorce is never easy anywhere, there are certain elements of the legal system in Israel that encourage the process to become especially messy, says divorce attorney Jay Hait. 

However, says Hait, who has authored two full-length books explaining the Israeli divorce process for English-speaking olim, people considering divorce can learn to understand the Israeli system and develop strategies that will ensure better outcomes for both sides. 

Hait made Aliya 15 years ago from the New York area as a corporate lawyer, but switched his professional direction after his own divorce got particularly ugly. 

"There are things unique to the Israeli system that lead attorneys to see it as a zero-sum game, in a different way than in the US," he says. "The system is unfair to women because of the Get (religious divorce document) issue, which unfortunately becomes a built-in tool to allow blackmail; also there is no spousal support for divorced women - so if she took care of the kids all those years while he built a career and now that the kids have grown up he wants out of the marriage, she could be in for a rude awakening.   On the other hand it is also unfair to men because the child support payment system doesn't take relative earnings into consideration, meaning his monthly child support payments won't take her earnings into consideration; and there is a propensity by the police to automatically remove men from the house if the police are called during an argument.   These factors and others are used by Israeli attorneys to make divorce in Israel a nasty game of winner-takes-all."

Hait sees education as part of the solution to creating divorce arrangements that are less nasty. On his website,, and his business Facebook page, Hait's firm includes a huge assortment of videos and articles about various elements of the legal process, including overviews, answering questions, and recommendations on how to minimize damage to children.  Hait also has free downloadable educational literature on the website (some examples: a divorce preparation diary; a booklet "The 10 Commandments for People Considering Divorce"; and a guide "18 Questions You Should Be Asking Before Hiring a Divorce Attorney") at    

Last December, Hait published his first book, "Everything Anglo Jewish Women Need To Know About Divorce in Israel". "I found that educated, professional women were coming to my office, without knowing anything about the system or how to prepare for divorce. Many didn't even have awareness of their bank accounts and pension funds.  How were they supposed to competently prepare for divorce without their basic financial information?"

Soon after, Hait noticed that men were also downloading the book, "and after 20 or 30 calls from people asking me to write a men's book, I decided to write a book for men - " Everything Anglo Jewish Men Need To Know About Divorce in Israel."

Janglo readers are able to download e-copies of the book at no cost at (for women) and (for men).  

About 2/3 of the material is the same in both books, Hait says. The basic underlying principles are the same, as are instructions on process and filing claims. The difference is in the strategies recommended. 

"For example, if a man wants joint custody, it is important that he doesn't wait until after the divorce is imminent to start spending more time with the kids. He should increase his time with them as early as possible so the courts can observe. At the same time, its also important to consider carefully whether joint custody is the best option. For someone who works late every night, it might not be a workable possibility."

"Meanwhile, women need to know what their assets are, so they can horse trade one right for another when dividing up assets," Hait adds. "Also, people often say that women should run to the Family court first, and men to the Rabbinic court, but that can often be really bad advice."

"These books help each side set reasonable expectations for a divorce process without a scorched-earth approach," Hait says. "The best solution is a fair one that satisfies the basic needs of both parties. A fair resolution is more likely to be followed without future arguments, so conflict won't continue to linger longer than it has to." 

"Ultimately, you don't want a situation where there is hatred between the ex-spouses when the kids are getting married 15 or 20 years down the road. Divorce is difficult, but we can still take steps to make it as bearable as possible."

Jay Hait has offices in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Raanana, and can meet clients in Modiin and Beit Shemesh. Learn more at For a complimentary case evaluation, goto

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